05 March 2013

Radioville, USA


So, I've passed through this tiny little Pulaski County town between San Pierre and Medaryville often enough that it's quite amazing to me that I haven't stopped to take this picture until my last trip through in February.  What would take me down US 421?  The Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Refuge to see the Sandhill Cranes of course, but also more recently my car has worn a path between home and Monon and Rensselaer.

Back to this little town.  Its name is "Radioville".  Now, you may think that's not so strange, but considering most towns were platted long before the invention of the radio, I thought, as I often do-outloud-to my wife, "I wonder how that little place got its name?"
And then I would speculate the remaining 1 1/2 hours home.  Outloud.
So a googling I went and this is what I came up with:

The land that the village of Radioville occupies was once part of a large tract of land originally owned by Irene Otto and was known as the Anthony Ranch. Radioville was laid out in 1933 by Margaret and Pearl Lauglin, of Illinois, who secured possession of some of the Otto holdings which boarded the west side of US 421 and extended east 3/4 of a mile with the Monon Railroad cutting through. The land between the highway and the Monon tracks were to be divided into 82 lots. Beyond the tracks the land was to be divided into 272 lots. The community never fully materialized and today consists of a dozen or so houses and trailers strung along the highway. A 1942 road atlas had Radioville still listed as Anthony. Maybe the name Radioville didn't have anything to do with the development in 1933, although the 1930s were the heyday of radio, and came later.
A swell, 1930s Art Deco-style radio.....much like the ones used in Radioville, I'm sure

I also found that it may have also once been referred to as "Strawberry".....fields forever.  Here's another piece that turned up from googling....and this time, the writer wasn't as complimentary of the rascals who founded it:

The following is from John Ghrist who has written a book about Radioville: Radioville is an interesting place. Back in the 30's, everyone was radio crazed.. There was the Radio Flyer wagon and lots of other things that attached the word "radio" to it to gain more interest. During that time, a "doctor" used radio waves to heal people from their illnesses.  He also created Radioville to sell swamp lots to mostly poor people coming to this country.  Most of them starved and left the area. Local farmers helped the rest of these people make it through the winter.

What I like to imagine the folks in Radioville do on Saturday nights

Today the west side of Radioville (west side of 421) is part of the Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife area and tree nursery.  No buildings remain.  The east side, and I don't mean to sound disparaging against the good folks of this fine city, is composed of a dozen or so small houses, shacks, and mobile homes or the remains of such.  One substantial building remains.  It has the appearance of a dance hall or bowling alley, which would have been popular during the 1930s.  The village is a strange little place and barely warrants a reduced speed zone.  Now that I've put that out there, I better be watching my speed the next time through.

6 comments:

Charlie Clawson said...

The bowling alley you mentioned was called the Countryside Lanes and was operated by Bud Schroeder for over 40 years. Spent many days/nights there kegling. Bud passed in 2007.

Capouch said...

The "Anthony Ranch" consisted of 1880 acres, all in a single tract. The property was named for "Judge Anthony of Chicago," who still owned it in 1892, when the Pulaski County Democrat reported that his family spent the summer there. It sold for about $43,000 in 1901 to a pair of investors, and the Anthony home--said to be the finest in the whole county--was later occupied by farm manager Fred Eckert. I have a big piece about the ranch somewhere which I will try to find. I believe at some point the main product was horses.

Anonymous said...

Our church would have their New Years Eve get together at the bowling alley. There was also a restaurant in the building. Lots of memories there. Sad to see it so run down now. My husband and I pass by there on our way home to see my parents who live just outside of Medaryville.

Bergens said...

We have an 1868 Johnson's map of Indiana that shows "Strawberry Ridge" (the words) right around the juncture of Starke, Jasper, and Pulaski counties... and yes, M or C, our church met at the bowling alley every New Year's Eve for many, many years. And yes, the restaurant cooked up really good homemade food, including homemade fries. We lived right down the road on the fish and wildlife area... so there is a structure on that side of the highway -- and the state highway garage is there also. The old CCC camp (and later the conscientious objectors camp) were located behind the residence. We used to have Mennonite families stop by so the older men could show their wives (and family) where they had served their time during WWII. When we first lived in this area we rented the little house across the road (700N) from the bowling alley.

Charlie Clawson said...

This is just for general information for those who may be reading and I'm fairly confident that Susie (Bergens) already knows this, but the duck pond, wishing well and the original set of brooder houses for the birds at the JP game preserve were all built by the men of CCC camp during the 1930's.

cathy riley said...

I grew up in the area. My parents moved there in 1965 and built there own business and home. They owned and antiques store that still stands today, across the road from where this picture was taken, even though it is no longer open. There was and is still a blueberry farm and there used to be a junk yard